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How is the symbol of food used to bring about character development in the novels Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka and The Woman in the Dunes by Kobo Abe?

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English Paper I-Draft 1 Prompt: How is the symbol of food used to bring about character development in the novels 'Metamorphosis' by Franz Kafka and 'The Woman in the Dunes' by Kobo Abe? In both Metamorphosis and The Woman in the Dunes, food is used in various ways. It is used as a symbol to bring out the different stages of the character, to set the character within the hierarchical structure of the novel, to develop the main character's relationship with the nourisher and to show how the protagonist reaches realizations. Through all these ways, food is used as a focus to bring about character development. This is evident in many examples found in both novels. Food is used as a symbol to show how the character develops through the novel. At the beginnings of both books, the main characters, Gregor Samsa and Nikki Jumpei change their eating habits, a change which has a dual purpose. Firstly, it underscores the fact that they go through major adjustments, and secondly, their choice in food is used to symbolize their state in life. In Metamorphosis, Gregor's choice in food is described as "...half- decayed vegetables... a piece of cheese that Gregor would have called uneatable two days ago..." (Chapter 2). As he transforms from a human to a cockroach, he transits from enjoying his favorite 'human' food to eating rotting food. ...read more.


It is evident from his surprise while she does this that he is not used to being treated like this, and that he has risen in the hierarchical structure of The Woman in the Dunes. Evidently, in one novel, the protagonist moves down in the hierarchical structure, while in the other, the protagonist rises. Both authors use mealtimes to bring out these changes. The reader can see that in the two books, though they experience opposite hierarchical changes, it is meal times that are used to express these changes, which further develop the characters. In addition to the different stages of life and hierarchy, in both novels the woman, who is the provider of food and nourishment, also plays an important role in character development. In Metamorphosis, Gregor's sister notices that some milk has spilt around the edge of his feeding bowl and carries it away with a cloth. In this example, the spilt milk is a foreshadowing of the ceasing of nourishment. Furthermore, that Grete would rather not touch the bowl with her bare hands is symbolic of how the brother and sister grow apart and how Gregor soon disgusts his sister. In Nikki Jumpei's case, it is the woman in the dunes who nourishes him with food. At moments of setbacks, to comfort him, the woman suggests cooking dinner, which suggests that this is the way they overcome problems. ...read more.


On the other hand, Nikki Jumpei regains some hope and builds a contraption to help him escape, but when he ends up collecting fresh water, his plans change. In this instance, Nikki starts off by trying to lure an animal into his trap, similar to how the villagers tried to trap him. However, his contraption results firstly in the decay of a fish, which symbolizes the end of his meaningless life, and secondly, the surprising collection of pure water, which symbolizes his unforeseen realization in the end. In Metamorphosis, as well as The Woman in the Dunes, food is used to show how the protagonists make realizations regarding their lives and make decisions based on these. Throughout both novels, Franz Kafka and Kobo Abe effectively use the symbol of food to develop the main character in various ways: by showing different stages of the character, setting the character within the hierarchical structure of the novel, developing the protagonist's relationship with the nourisher, and showing the deterioration and final realizations of the character. However, Gregor and Nikki's realizations have different outcomes. Kafka uses food as a means for the protagonist to achieve his realization of his meaningless existence, which leads to his death. On the other hand, Kobo Abe uses food to lead to the character's finding meaning in his discovery and his 're-birth'. Though there are some similarities and some differences in the way the theme of food has been used, the effect is the same: developing a strong character. 1413 words ?? ?? ?? ?? Mahima Dhume 1 ...read more.

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